state: A

Crematorium Zemst

Design for a new crematorium in Zemst-Eppegem

The crematorium is a place that reminds us of the limits of life.

It requires an architecture that goes beyond its own material boundary and generates meanings. The crematorium is not a building or a programme: it is an enfilade, a script of situations and moments that are the fusion of an environment and an experience of mourning. This script includes the approach to the place, the cremation rituals, the relationship of the crematorium to its surroundings and its operation.

Within this model, we bundle all facets that are part of the ritual into one court, one room, one movement: a circular room that is unambiguously readable in the landscape and that registers in a quiet manner.

The room has a hushed appearance. It is present in the surroundings and at the same time is absorbed into the various garden rooms. Through the columbarium, the spreading meadow and the strong sight lines, the crematorium is anchored in the site.

The circular room is composed of smaller rooms that, depending on their use, are elaborated in scale, proportion, spatiality and materialisation. Together, these rooms form a labyrinthine arrangement, with a mysterious impenetrability; a city. Depending on the funeral, the route through the rooms can be varied.

Like a small city, the circular room as an architectural model gives space to the customers, the undertakers, the staff and the next of kin who pay their last respects here.

  • client Havicrem (via Open Oproep)
  • location Zemst-Eppegem
  • date 2011
  • status competition proposal
  • icw Karel Bruylandt and Kris Coremans
  • engineering office Henk Pijpaert engineering (stability engineer), COBE consultants building & engineering (technical engineer)
  • team NU Freek Dendooven